Category Archives: Education

“From Victorian to Usonian: History/Architecture Getaway”

Frank Lloyd Wright’s  Architecture in Manchester

There are two known Usonian homes in New Hampshire and they both happen to be here in Manchester. However only one is accessible to the public and that is the Zimmerman House, which is owned by the Currier Museum of Art.  

Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) used the term “usonian” to describe his design for a group of houses built for middle class families. These houses have only one story and no garage, (instead they have a carport) and not a lot of storage space. Typically, these Usonian Houses have an open floor concept, lots of natural light and plenty of use of brick and wood. They are FLW’s answer to a simpler lifestyle born in the years of the Depression. It is said that the Usonian style preceded the ranch style architecture.

Exterior shot of The Zimmerman House
Usonian Style

The Zimmerman House in Manchester was designed in 1950 for Dr Isadore and Lucille Zimmeman. The house is in pristine condition and has been left the way the Zimmermans outfitted it it when they lived in it.  Since Mrs Zimmerman left the house to the museum, all decoration, furniture, art and even china and clothing are exactly as they were. A glimpse of times past.

The layout of the house was carefully planned and the attention to detail is wonderful.  The brick house and the beautifully designed garden blend nicely together and in summer, the museum is occasionally offering  “twilight tours” with live music at the home. A very special treat indeed.

The Currier museum offers guided tours of the Zimmerman House between April and December. Only 12 people can participate per tour and there are 3 tours a day.

If you are planning to make an overnight trip out of it, we are offering a package that include a 1 night stay at our B&B ( of course cooked to order breakfast included) and tickets for the FLW tour, package also includes same day entrance to the Currier Museum of Art.  We are located a short 2 min walk from the Currier.

Bed and Breakfast, what does that really mean?

The answer may be obvious but it may be worth reiterating, since today’s breakfast was a little different than the typical day.

A B&B should mean just that, a luxurious Bed and a wonderful Breakfast. It should be a place that feels a bit like home and provides a nice comfortable rest for the guest. While it may not feel like your home, it should have a “homey” feel. After all, it is your home away from home.

Breakfast should be another reason why you choose to stay at a B&B. Today we had a couple staying that follow a Vegan diet. They had informed us of this during the booking, and also took the time to call. We  reassured them that it would not be an issue and we would plan accordingly.

Their breakfast could have consisted of a few different options, the easiest would be to just supply fruit and perhaps some vegan yogurt and cereal. We feel however, that breakfast should be something that you remember as part of your stay at the Ash Street Inn. In this particular instance, I had emailed the guest and suggested vegan Banana Pecan Pancakes.  I heard back a couple days later that “The breakfast you have planned sounds fantastic!” so it was put on the menu.

Blueberry Muffins shown with large blueberriesMargit took this one step further and added a vegan Blueberry Muffin to the check-in baked goods, They were placed alongside Chocolate Chip Cookies and Apricot White Chocolate Chip Scones, both non-vegan.  Success, we were told the muffins served as an excellent after dinner dessert when our guest returned “home” and were looking for a snack.

The pancakes were well received in the morning and were served with warm NH Maple Syrup and earthbalance “butter”. There was of course fruit and soy yogurt as well. Upon checkout I was pleased to see a note in our guestbook that said “thanks for the beautiful room and  fantastic breakfast.” Mission accomplished!

Although we can not accommodate all dietary needs, we will do our best to have some options available. We do ask during the booking process, that if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions, please let us know,

Hiking Manchester

I know I keep talking about the CITY of Manchester, NH and all there is to do here but, before you start picturing all the concrete and blacktop, I thought I’d talk a bit about all the walking and hiking you can take in without driving all the way to the White Mountains.

From the Ash Street Inn you can get to some pretty fun spots pretty quickly.  The list of parks within the city limits is pretty extensive and can be found at the Manchester parks and recreation website.  As you can see from this listing, some of the parks are quite small – mostly historical monuments and such.  But several are quite large and allow for lots of recreational activities year-round.

Derryfield Park is just about a mile east of the Inn.  It is situated on a broad hill overlooking Manchester, to the west, with great views of the skyline and the mountains beyond.  The park covers almost 77 acres primarily around the Oak Hill Reservoir, with some of the area developed for recreation and some left in it’s natural state.  At the northern end of the park it connects with the McIntyre Ski Area which is a small, local ski area that is a favorite for tubers!   A great park for lounging around on a Sunday afternoon with a good book – and a pillow!

Livingston Park/Dorrs Pond is about a mile north of the Inn.  The park is situated around Dorr’s Pond and offers a wide of recreational activities from fishing and hiking to soccer and tennis.  It covers over 130 acres, including the pond, and is a favorite nearby getaway for our guests.  For a day of fishing, a few quick sets of tennis or a three mile run, it is close and convenient and still in the city.

The Massabesic Audubon Center may be the best of all.  Just six (6) miles from the Inn, the sanctuary surrounds Massabesic Lake which is the primary water supply for the city of Manchester.  The Lake has a surface area of 2,500 acres and the protected watershed area covers another 8.000 acres.  Here you can fish and boat, hike, go bird-watching and just commune with nature all day long.  There are guided activities through the Audubon Center as well as marked trails if you want to head off on your own.  Whatever you choose, it’s a remarkable place to be for a few hours and just a few minutes from downtown Manchester.

These are a few of the large parks and well worth the time to visit.  But you don’t even need to go out of your way to enjoy some great little parks that dot the city.  From the Inn to the restaurant area Elm Street, you can pass through three parks complete with well mown grass, trees and flowers, traditional park benches and all the little things that make parks fun like children, puppies {on leashes, of course) and squirrels.  All during a 15 minute on your way to dinner.  Which we’ll get back to next time.

 

Scones

Today I’m going to talk a little about scones. Not so much about scones really but how the scones at the Ash Street Inn got to be what they are today.  It was an interesting journey that ended with a great result!

Before we opened we had determined that we wanted to make cookies and scones, from scratch, every day, so our guests would be able to have a little snack in the afternoon.  So first we needed to learn how make scones.  After a bit of trial and error, we were making some great scones!  We made them the traditional way as a 10” round which we cut into 8 wedges and kept them out on the counter under a pastry dome.  Our guests oohed and aahed but rarely touched them.

“Maybe they’re just too big for snacking!” opined my wife, Darlene.  [She’s the real innkeeper – I’m just the cook…]  So we made them as drop scones and got 12-14 from the batch.  We still heard the oohs and aahs but no one touched them.  “Smaller still” says the innkeeper!  Now I’m down to a medium cookie scoop, about one ounce capacity, and a batch makes 26-27 small scones.

Out goes the plate with four each of four different varieties.  And they disappear!  The same guests who wouldn’t take one before now have two or three of the little scones and then come back for more.  We just can’t keep them on the plate!

So that’s how we learned to make little scones that our guests really love.  More importantly, that’s how we learned a lot more about guests and how to listen to all of the things that they don’t say so that we can make their experience here at the Inn the best that it can be.

 

Here’s one of the recipes that we use at the Inn.  Great with a hot cup of tea but just as good with coffee!

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP ORANGE SCONES

Chocolate and orange, a classic combination from the Ash Street Inn!

2 cups all-purpose flour                                     ¼ cup orange juice

1/3 cup granulated sugar                                     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons baking powder                                grated peel from one orange

½ teaspoon salt                                                    ¾ cup miniature chocolate chips (semisweet or dark)

½ cup unsalted butter, chilled

2 large eggs

 

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the butter in ½ inch cubes and distribute over the flour mixture.  With a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  In a small bowl, stir together the eggs, orange juice, vanilla and orange peel.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and combine well.  The dough will be sticky.  With lightly floured hands, knead in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.

 

Use a medium cookie scoop and place the scones on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. Freeze for several hours.  Then place in a zip-lock bag.  Scones will keep for 2-3 weeks.

 

To bake, remove from freezer and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 13 to 14 minutes until just lightly browned.

 

Manchester, NH – the “center of the universe”?

You might say we’re biased but, yes, we do see it as just that.  From the Ash Street Inn Bed and Breakfast, so many places are so close and easy to get to.  You can visit any of the New England states on less than one-half tank of gas.  Mystic, CT; Newport, RI; Portland, ME; Montpelier, VT and Provincetown, MA are all less than 175 miles away.  And with the easy access to all the interstate highways, you can get there quickly.  Or, if you prefer, there are lots of choices for “the road less travelled” that might get you there more slowly – or might not get you there at all.  It’s so easy to get sidetracked along the way that some guests never get where they were originally going at all – and don’t mind a bit.

Closer to home, there are still lots of choices when looking for great things to do in and around Manchester, NH.  Within 45 minutes in any direction, you can experience the wide range of choices that New England has to offer.  Head south and you can be in downtown Boston, MA with all that it has to offer – from the arts to sports to history.  Head east and you can experience all 13 miles of New Hampshire’s scenic coastline from the sandy beaches of Hampton Beach along the rock-strewn cliffs to Portsmouth.  Head west and you will be in the Monadnock range where picturesque little towns like Peterborough and Dublin home of Yankee Magazine, can be real “finds”.  Head north and you will discover Lake Winnipesaukee and Franconia Notch in the White Mountains, home to our beloved Mount Washington.

And, without even leaving Manchester, there are so many exciting things to do.  There is hiking, fishing and mountain biking around Massabesic Lake and the Audubon Center.  In season, you can ski and “tube” at McIntyre Ski Area. Minor league hockey and baseball are always great fun.  We have several venues for concerts and performances by artists from the world over.  The Currier Museum of Art and several other galleries and museums can make even a rainy day a great time.  With all the great restaurants and clubs in the city, everyone can find something that suits their style and have a remarkable day doing just about anything at all.

In future posts, we’ll talk in more detail about all the things to do in Manchester, NH and you’ll see why we like to think of it as the “center of the universe”!